“Our mothers always remain the strangest, craziest people we’ve ever met.” ~ Marguerite Duras

My mother may fool them all. They have already moved her from CICU, and today she was out of bed. I know that she’s feeling better because she started criticizing me about something. Funny how that can be almost comforting.

Anyway, she has said that she doesn’t want to talk to anyone, doesn’t want everyone to know her business, so I failed to mention to her that I broadcast the news here to my little audience.

The long and short of it is that she has five blocked arteries and an aneurysm on her heart. There’s a lot of damage, and they’re pretty certain that she’s had another heart attack in the past but didn’t know it (she pooh poohs such an idea). However, because of the extensive damage, they do not feel that they can operate without risking her life, so treatment will be a medicine regimen.

She’s already talking about going home and wants to know where her purse is . . .

Many, many thanks to those of you who have sent well wishes. It means a lot. Truly. Thankfully, Corey flies home tomorrow, so perhaps I can take a half an hour or so and collapse.

“The fruition of the year had come and the night should have been fine with a moon in the sky and the crisp sharp promise of frost in the air, but it wasn’t that way.” ~ Sherwood Anderson, from Winesburg, Ohio

John Fabian Carlson River in Winter oil on canvas nd
“River in Winter” (nd, oil on canvas)
by John Fabian Carlson

                   

The weather is calling for a massive winter storm. It was 62 degrees today. Does this make any sense? Well, I wanted snow, I suppose.

John Fabian Carlson WInter Willows c1935
“Winter Willows” (c1935)
by John Fabian Carlson

Bright Sun after Heavy Snow

A ledge of ice slides from the eaves,
piercing the crusted drift. Astonishing
how even a little violence
eases the mind.

In this extreme state of light
everything seems flawed: the streaked
pane, the forced bulbs on the sill
that refuse to bloom . . . A wad of dust
rolls like a desert weed
over the drafty floor.

Again I recall a neighbor’s
small affront — it rises in my mind
like the huge banks of snow along the road:
the plow, passing up and down all day,
pushes them higher and higher…

The shadow of smoke rising from the chimney
moves abruptly over the yard.
The clothesline rises in the wind. One
wooden pin is left, solitary as a finger;
it, too, rises and falls.

~ Jane Kenyon

                   

John Fabian Carlson Windswept Places, oil on canvas nd
“Windswept Places” (nd, oil on canvas)
by John Fabian Carlson

Snow at the Farm

My father gets his tractor out.
It is winter, finally—the first
big snow of the year—and

he is eighty-four. He does not leap
into the seat the way that I
remember, but once he’s there

he pulls down the brim of his cap,
and all-in-one his legs and arms
work at clutches, throttles, and

levers as he pushes and loads
the snow into neat hills at
the edge of the yard. The sun

is a bright shield in the sky,
something I cannot bear to look at,
and the snow is so white that

it shows black where the plow
cuts in. From the kitchen window
I watch the red tractor moving

back and forth through the blue
and white world, my father’s
hands at the wheel.

~ Joyce Sutphen

                   

Music by Lottie Kestner, “Halo”

“The heart is a foreign country whose language none | of us is good at” ~ Jack Gilbert, from “Meanwhile”

                   

“It turned out that being together
at twilight in the olive groves of Umbria
did, indeed, measure everything after that.” ~ Jack Gilbert, from “Living Hungry After”

Some poems from Jack Gilbert’s book The Dance Most of All: Poems

Winter in the Night Fields

I was getting water tonight
off guard when I saw the moon
in my bucket and was tempted
by those Chinese poets
and their immaculate pain.


After Love

He is watching the music with his eyes closed.
Hearing the piano like a man moving
through the woods thinking by feeling.
The orchestra up in the trees, the heart below,
step by step. The music hurrying sometimes,
but always returning to quiet, like the man
remembering and hoping. It is a thing in us,
mostly unnoticed. There is somehow a pleasure
in the loss. In the yearning. The pain
going this way and that. Never again.
Never bodied again. Again the never.
Slowly. No undergrowth. Almost leaving.
A humming beauty in the silence.
To having been. Having had. And the man
knowing all of him will come to the end.


Going Home

Mother was the daughter of sharecroppers.
And my father the black sheep of rich Virginia
merchants. She went barefoot until twelve.
He ran away with the circus at fourteen.
Neither one got through grammar school.
And here I am in the faculty toilet
trying to remember the dates of Emperor Vespasian.

                   

Music by Black Lab, “Weightless”

“Memo to Justin Bieber: For the young celeb, life is a banquet of free food. What they don’t tell you is that you are often the last course.” ~ Stephen King, January 23, 2014 Twitter

Friday leftovers on a Saturday . . .

The collective noun for baboons is commonly troop, but members of the genus Papio, also called dog-faced monkeys, are colloquially referred to as a congress . . .

This is one of the reasons why I enjoy tumblr so much: these serendipitous bits of humor and loveliness. In this case, the image below sparked a whole fan base, including comics, videos, and even a t-shirt. Here is the link:

The real Miss Officer is now on tumblr. And if you haven’t seen her interview, she is just as cute in real life as in the comic.

And this is another, Tom Hiddleston hugs (He just seems like a genuinely nice guy . . . ):

Blizzard cam, meet Polar Bear. Polar Bear, meet blizzard cam . . .

Here’s a new Anne Emond comic:

And finally, if you want to read one of the funniest news stories ever written about a woman, a gun, lingerie, and um, body parts, go here. I won’t ruin it for you. Trust me, though. It’s a doozy.

“I now know what I want: I want to remain standing still in the sea.” ~ Clarice Lispector, from An Apprenticeship

Igor Grabar Winter Rooks Nest 1904
“White Winter, Rooks’ Nest” (1904, oil on canvas)
by Igor Grabar

                   

“I fear this silence,
this inarticulate life.” ~ Adrienne Rich, from Twenty-One Love Poems

Friday morning. Sunny and very, very cold, 17 degrees.

Well, I had a Friday leftovers post ready to go, but I’ve decided that I’m going to try to do a real post today, you know, one with my actual words and thoughts and not a reblog of someone else’s stuff. I’ve had my first cup of coffee; I have my heat wrap around my neck, the one filled with flax that goes in the microwave; it’s comforting. I’m ready . . . I think.

Izsák Perlmutter  Snowy Trees in the Garden
“Snowy Trees in the Garden” (nd, oil on canvas)
by Izsák Perlmutter

So yesterday was my birthday, and it was as unspectacular as I had thought it would be. My mother did not call to wish me Happy Birthday; she regularly forgets my birthday, which, if you think about it, is quite a statement about our relationship. She will say that she doesn’t remember anything, but she’s been forgetting this day for at least a decade, so . . .

It doesn’t bother me so much now, but it used to really get to me. Lex and Brett both got me early, and Corey texted. I heard from Eamonn in the evening, and then Corey called to see how it went. He knows of my love/hate relationship with my birthdays, how I tend to get depressed, or if I’m already down, to spiral downwards even more. I actually didn’t spiral this year, but I think it’s because I’m in denial and on hold until Corey returns. I mean, Christmas, New Year’s, and now my birthday—all have passed with me being without my life partner, and it’s weird.

“I so often feel that I’m barely here, that to feel weight is to be reminded of my own existence.” ~ Hannah Kent, from Burial Rites

Tillie is better. I’ve only had to give her the sedating cough medicine a few times. I can tell that she’s feeling much better because she and Bailey are having their daily play fights and romps around the yard. It’s wonderful to see her with her regular bright eyes.

Janos Tornyai Winter Landsape with Violet Lights
“Landscape with Violet Lights” (c1934)
by Janos Tornyai

I am on day five of this particular migraine. I don’t even know why I try any more. Nothing works. The Botox obviously isn’t working, or perhaps, is only working some. Admittedly, the pain is not quite as acute, but the duration is hanging in there; no one-day headaches for me. I am nothing if not prolific (in all of the wrong ways). I put a call in to the pain management center, waiting to see is they have any ideas.

So, I’ve been weepy this month, actually since New Year’s eve. It doesn’t take much to make the tears begin to pool. I hate being weepy. So far, I’ve cried at an Apple commercial (the one in which the kid surprises his family by actually being aware of them); I cried at a YouTube video (the one about the guy who gets out of prison only to rob a bank of $1 so that he can go back in). And I cried at last week’s episode of “Bones,” in which one of the characters finds out he has bone cancer.

I have to say, 2014 is starting off with a bang.

“I have travelled so far to remember
Nothing of my former life, though perhaps that is
Truly best. I’ve left everything I’ve ever known

To come here, to stand in the shape of your shadow.” ~ David St. John, from “XVI. A Traveller”

I just went to refill my coffee cup, and while I was standing at the counter, a gust of frigid air caught me around the ankles; it came from the sink cabinet. This house is so drafty, and it’s so damnably cold. The dusting of snow we had a few days ago is mostly ice. The least it could do if it’s going to be this cold is to snow more than half an inch. Oh well. I think I’ll switch to some random thoughts at this point.

Boris Izrailovich Anisfeld Melting Snow, Petrograd, 1917 oil on canvas
“Melting Snow, Petrograd” (1917, oil on canvas)
by Boris Izrailovich Anisfeld

Here goes . . . Things I have realized:

  • If the color slate blue is anywhere in an image, I will immediately be drawn to it; more so if yellow is also present. This is odd considering I used to have a real antipathy towards the color yellow. Now? No longer.
  • Part of me wishes that I worked in an art museum now that I have developed a much broader appreciation of art, well beyond my novice love of the Impressionists. It would be so lovely to roam the galleries unimpeded by ropes and stanchions that keep visitors at a safe distance.
  • My appreciation of duck tape only grows with age, she said, apropos of nothing . . .
  • I’m not agoraphobic, but I don’t much like leaving the house. What’s the term for that? Lazy?
  • I think that I’ve finally resigned myself to the fact that I will not be getting my doctorate; what program is going to admit someone my age when they have the pick of 20-somethings?
  • This does not mean that I will ever stop wishing that I had gotten my Phd. I will always wish that.

“It is awful to want to go away and to want to go nowhere.” ~ Sylvia Plath, from The Unabridged Journals

Things I want to say but never will:

  • To my ex: You are a cold, selfish shell of the man I once knew. I never thought you would absent yourself from your children’s lives as deeply as you have. You are not worthy of their love or respect.

    Georgia O'Keeffe Winter Trees, Abiquiu, I, 1950 oil on canvas
    “Winter Trees, Abiquiu, I” (1950, oil on canvas)
    by Georgia O’Keeffe
  • To my s-in-law (here): Your mother and I had a really great friendship; she told me once that she liked me better than the son I was married to, so for god’s sake, stop.
  • To my mother: You will never know how many ways you have crushed my spirit and wounded me to the core. You have made me insecure about every aspect of my life.
  • To the boss who continues to plague my dreams: You are a stupid man for not realizing how you were being played and manipulated by the redhead.
  • To the man I spent too much time with simply because I was lonely: I know that you beat your wife. I’m so glad that I did not have anything more than a superficial relationship with you.

   “I thought

of you—              your obvious loveliness,         your obliviousness

to lost things.” ~ Sally Delehant, from “It’s Always Something”

Things I still don’t know:

Gabriele Munter Paysage d'hiver 1933 huile sur bois
“Paysage d’hiver” (1933, oil on wood)
by Gabriele Munter
  • How to make fondant for a cake.
  • How to apply false eyelashes (in what situation would this be necessary?).
  • How to find a literary agent.
  • How to motivate my children to move beyond where they are now.
  • How to motivate myself to do something . . . anything . . .
  • How to make Crème fraîche.
  • How to have my picture taken.
  • How to take a photograph of running water and get that blanket effect.
  • How to lay brick.
  • How to let things go.
  • How to love myself.

“I want something else. I’m not even sure what to call it anymore except I know it feels roomy and it’s drenched in sunlight and it’s weightless . . .” ~ Mark Z. Danielewki, from House of Leaves

Things I still haven’t done:

  • Gone to Ireland, Iceland, New Zealand, or Australia.
  • Visited the Louvre, the Musée d’Orsay, the Colosseum, the Roman Forum, or the Pyramids of Giza.
  • Read Dante’s Divine Comedy, or Homer’s Iliad/Odyssey.
  • Found a literary agent.

    Camil Ressu Winter Day oil on cardboard nd
    “Winter Day” (nd, oil on cardboard)
    by Camil Ressu
  • Gotten past the first 30 pages of a draft without sabotaging myself and convincing myself that no one would want to read what I have written.
  • Seen the Northern Lights or the Grand Canyon.
  • Visited any of a number of stone circles in Britain.
  • Taken a photograph of a hummingbird.
  • Gotten another tattoo.
  • Gotten any work as a book indexer. I would be so good at this. How can I make this happen?
  • Flown in a glider (will never give up this particular dream), or ridden in a hot air balloon.
  • Lived in a house on a cliff by the sea . . .

I guess that’s enough for now.

More later. Peace.

All images today are obviously an homage to the freezing temperatures and my wish for a blanket of snow . . .

Music by Justine Bennett, “Carry Me”

                   

no help for that 

there is a place in the heart that
will never be filled

a space

and even during the
best moments
and
the greatest
times

we will know it

we will know it
more than
ever

there is a place in the heart that
will never be filled

and

we will wait
and
wait

in that
space.

~ Charles Bukowski